May 17, 2014 |
Shore dining in 2013 was dominated by restaurateurs singing the Hurricane Sandy Blues. Will 2014 be the summer they play the Bounceback Boogie? With the exception of an unusually quiet casino scene, the early buzz is promising. From Long Beach Island to Stone Harbor, new projects, new operators, and a new spirit seemed to be perking in mid-May, with a number of intriguing places opening around Memorial Day or shortly after. The area around Long Beach Island, among the hardest hit by Sandy, has at least a couple of sizable new attractions just about to open.
June 7, 2007
To say the Sidecar Bar & Grille is "on a roll" would just trivialize with a cheap pun what chef Rich Freedman and owner Adam Ritter are doing in their gastro-pub near Graduate Hospital in South Philly. Freedman, working in a tiny kitchen, turns out scratch charcuterie - Cajun sausage made of raw pork and pork liver, chorizo, Tasso ham, country pate, and hickory-and-alder-smoked knackwurst. Take the knackwurst, which comes with a salad and homemade sauerkraut. At $9.95, it's not the cheapest sandwich around.
June 30, 2014 |
There's a Manhattan aging in a barrel on a bar by the beach, flanked by 29 taps of craft beer. There's another bar, a so-called speakeasy, tucked behind a tiny wine store where diners buy bottles at $15 over retail to go with some wacky small plates, or choose from more than 280 whiskies. And what is that sound I keep hearing at the Jersey Shore? It's the sizzle of prime steaks on the grill. The shell-crack of crabs dusted in Old Bay. The dull click of raw-bar oysters being unhinged, their briny liquor glistening in the salt air. This is the summer of moving on by the sea, with a fine drink in hand and some old-school indulgences on my plate.
December 17, 2009
The ever-improving Sidecar Bar, a pioneering gastropub in Graduate Hospital, took another step forward this fall with the addition of chef Brian Lofink. Formerly co-chef at Matyson off Rittenhouse Square, Lofink hasn't upscaled Sidecar's inventive bar fare so much as tweaked it with better ingredients. His nachos - usually a dish I dread - were an irresistible example. The gooey jack cheese has been replaced with a genuine Mexican melter - asadero. The salsa, a green tomatillo zinger studded with pineapple, jalapeño, and cilantro, was inspired by Lofink's brief stint with Bobby Flay.
June 27, 2014
PICTURE a billboard on I-76 with the slogan, "Philly's more fun when you eat vegan!" Or perhaps, "Philly's veg scene will ring your bell!" That day could be closer than you'd think, as Visit Philadelphia, among other forward-looking big-city tourism agencies, recognizes vegan dining as a draw. Visit Philadelphia CEO and president Meryl Levitz said that while there's no "Love, Philly" campaign targeting vegans, there may be soon. "It's not a fad," she told me in reference to the vegan trend.
June 4, 2012 |
Just because "Alla Spina" means "from the tap" doesn't mean those taps only stream with beer. At Marc Vetri's new gastropub, there are also plans to start pouring kegged local wines on draft sometime soon. But while the official details are still being ironed out, beverage director Steve Wildy decided to make good use of his Cornelius homebrewer soda kegs to start pouring Negroni cocktails on draft, too. This classic Italian cocktail of Campari, sweet vermouth, and gin (Bluecoat in my house)
May 28, 2009
There is mystery and magnetism to a cheese that won't melt, but instead turns golden and crispy on the griddle. And I've always been drawn to such grillers, like Cypriot haloumi, brandy-flamed Greek saganaki, or smoked Italian scamorza. My new favorite, though, is queso fresco from El Abuelito, a North Jersey producer making Mexican cheese in the Puebla style. Queso fresco is soft, fresh and salty (which prevents oozing under heat), and comes as a compressed cake of grainy curds that resembles a dry ricotta.